Guidance aims to prevent discrimination in emergency services

Guidance aims to prevent discrimination in emergency services
© Getty Images

The Obama administration issued guidance Tuesday to help federal agencies comply with anti-discrimination laws when providing emergency preparedness, response and recovery services. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The joint guidance from the departments of Justice; Health and Human Services; Housing and Urban Development; Homeland Security; and Transportation aim to ensure that individuals and communities that receive federal financial assistance aren’t discriminated against on the basis of race, color or national origin, prohibited under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The guidance advises agencies to share information about housing, health services or other emergency-related services and nondiscrimination rights with diverse racial, ethnic and limited-English proficient populations and engage with and seek input from those communities on how best to tailor emergency planning, response and recovery efforts.

It’s also suggested that agencies widely disseminate evacuation and disaster preparedness plans and ensure people know that life-saving services are available to immigrants.

The guidance recommends agencies collect and analyze information about the potentially affected populations to help ensure resources are being fairly allocated.

“In times of emergency, the law requires that federal funding recipients provide equal services to all people and all communities,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the agency’s Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta said in a statement. 

“This guidance will help ensure that individuals in need of assistance are not discriminated against during future hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophic events."